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Archived Fishing Report

Stable Conditions Return to Kentucky Lake Fishing Scene

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 05/08/2018

Sunny days have returned to the Kentucky Lake fishing scene, brightening the outlook of anglers who had grown weary of a stubborn spring. In fact, the weatherman is talking 90-degree temps by this weekend!

Before you complain about hot weather remember those promises you made to yourself back in March and April when it took three layers of clothes to stay out on the lake!

Lake levels rose slightly to start off the week but have fallen slowly and should stabilize by this weekend. The weather has settled down too so anglers should be able to establish some patterns for bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill and perhaps hold on to them for a few days.

Elevation for the weekend is projected to be in the 359.2 range at both Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville. Water color has cleared this week across most of the reservoir.

Surface temperatures are climbing as nice days with warm nights are heating things up. Water temps are presently in the 70 to 73 degree range.

Crappie seemed to show improvement this week with a few more fish taken in midrange depths by anglers both spider rigging and vertical fishing stakebeds. A few anglers long-lining curly tail grubs and Road Runner style jigs also landed a few more fish than they were doing last week at this time.

Depths of 13 to 14 feet were producing best. Some isolated fish were taken in 7 to 9 foot zones but most were out a little deeper.

Anglers vertical fishing were scoring best with jigs tipped with minnows. Successful colors varied from red/chartreuse to blue/chartreuse and some motor oil with glitter just to name a few.

Bluegill should improve in the next few days as surface temps rebound. There were a few days lately when the bluegill bite was decent and a few scattered shellcracker were mixed in there too. However, the fish seemed a bit sluggish some days and didn’t appear to be fanning or protecting beds.

Some nice bull bluegill sporting their dark olive drab colors and orange bellies have been taken but the best is yet to come. Watch for more aggressive behavior from the males in the next week or two as they begin fanning beds and protecting them with an attitude.

Increased numbers of pale yellow females were showing up in shallow areas with bulging bellies, a sure sign they’re staging and ready to go toward spawning craters on those sandy gravel bottoms.

Seems the biological clock for bluegill and redear has been a bit behind this spring too as were the crappie. 

Catfish have been biting lately and went on the prowl last week actually. Several dandy stringers have been taken in relatively shallow areas as the fish move up and search for spawning ground.

Bluegill and shellcracker fishermen tied in to several catfish each day while stalking the shoreline habitat. Some were taken back off the banks but moving up into those small bays and pockets.

Decent stringers of catfish have also been taken at various rocky banks and rip-rap areas lately. That pattern should continue into next week as they spawn. The catfish will also linger around bluegill beds to feed on the fry that begin hatching so the shallow bite should continue for a spell.

Bass fishing has been fair with most anglers indicating the fish are in a post-spawn pattern. There are always a few fish relating to shallow cover in Kentucky Lake so beating the bushes and grassbeds in lowlight conditions or the early morning and late afternoon is paying off at times.

Anglers are tossing a lot of topwater jerk baits and floating fluke style worms and mixing it with shallow running crankbaits at times.

Another pattern paying dividends has been suspending jerk baits fished around boat docks and piers. Pro anglers throughout the recent Bassmaster Elite tournament tossed spinnerbaits and a variety of Texas rigged craws and shallow running crankbaits to entice bites but even for them the fishing was tough at times.

Watch for a few more fish to pull out away from shallow shorelines as surface temps warm. Those secondary humps and flats should begin appealing to bass transitioning away from spawning territory.

May is a month with a good reputation for predictable weather. The overall fishing scene should see things improving for just about everyone!

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

Now That You're 'Hooked' on Fishing... Come See Us!

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Don't have a boat?  No worries!  Bank fishing is always an option for panfish. But if you're heart is set on largemouth or smallmouth, you can rent a fishing boat at many of our local resorts!

The perfect place to start looking for a place to stay at Kentucky or Barkley Lakes?  Right here on our main lodging page.

Honker Lake
Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

In June these beautiful lily pads are in full bloom at Honker Lake in Land Between The Lakes. Honker Lake is a great place for wildlife viewing and hiking.